A suspect is in custody in the death of a 19-year-old Wilmington woman who was shot at close range after she left a weekend party in Carson, but the heartbreak continues to ripple through the neighborhood where she lost her life.
Tributes have sprouted from the sidewalk since the tragedy, with candles, flowers and balloons left to pay respects to Cindy Ambriz. She was shot in the head in the 2600 East block of Carston Street, according the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
For a third day, a steady stream of mourners visited the spot where a gunman shot her to death only moments after she had left a house party.
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“She was a very fun, outgoing, sweet girl,” said friend Jasmine Fuerte.
Fuerte shared with NBC4 what she learned from the friend who had been walking with Ambriz to her car, saying they first took notice of the man just as they left the house, and then he appeared again.
"The guy said something, they exchanged some words. He was standing here, he shot her," Fuerte said.
Even as the sadness welled within Jasmine and other friends, another woman in the neighborhood, who did not know Ambriz, was going through a painful loss.
The man arrested in connection with the shooting, Alexander Espino, 19, was arrested in the home of Summer Vasquez.
She said Espino rode scooters with her kids and they had gone out riding near midnight Friday.
"He didn’t do it," she said.
During the ride, Vasquez lost sight of Espino, she acknowledged. When she returned home, the spotlight of a law enforcement helicopter followed her, she said. Espino was already inside the house, she said.
She said after Espino's arrest early Saturday, the county’s Department of Children and Family Services took protective custody of her young children, ages 5, 3, and 1.
She will attempt to regain custody of the children at a court hearing Wednesday.
"Alex should not have taken off and gotten nosy. He has to deal with the repercussions. Now, so do I," Vasquez said.
She brought her anger to the sidewalk memorial, venting against those who were there.
"Are you comfortable with the wrong person being arrested?" she asked of the gathered mourners.
"If you need help, I'll give you help, I'll shake this whole neighborhood for you,” she said.
Espino remains in custody without bail. Authorities can hold him another day while the DA's office reviews the case and determines whether to file charges.
No matter the charges, the East Carson neighborhood is filled with grief.
"I didn’t get a chance to tell her goodbye,” Jasmine said of Cindy. “And I want to say I love you baby girl and I miss you. Everybody misses you. I’m going to be around for your family.”